A new tree for Marg

Family and Waipā staff planted a new pin oak in Victoria Square on Saturday to replace the one which fell on Margaret Evelyn a year ago. From left, front: Campbell Hapi and Paula Brown, Fanni and Kristen Hapi, deputy mayor Liz Stolwyk, Stephen Freundlich, council staff Sally Sheedy and Brad Ward, with friends and neighbours in the background, including, from left Richard Edge, Penny Thompson with her dog Archie, Sue Duignan, Wynn Riechelmann, Gary Verberne, Jane West and, partially obscured, Elizabeth Verberne. Photo: Mary Anne Gill.

A ‘freak of nature’ is the final reason given for what happened when a pin oak tree fell on Cambridge resident Margaret Evelyn a year ago.

Family say the term could well have described Margaret, then aged 81, who was walking home from the gym when a mini tornado ripped a pin oak out of the ground on the Queen Street side of Victoria Square and onto the retired social worker.

On the first anniversary of her death on Saturday – May 20 – family, friends and neighbours gathered in driving rain to help Waipā parks’ staff replace the pin oak.

Margaret’s son Kristen Hapi said his mother would have been pleased at seeing a new tree planted to replace the 80-year-old that landed on her as she sheltered from the storm. She died in Waikato Hospital two and a half hours after the freakish wind uprooted the tree covering her in foliage which took Cambridge volunteer firefighters and police 45 minutes to clear.

Present for the planting were Kristen’s brother Campbell, their cousin Stephen Freundlich and other family members; friends Sue Duignan and Richard Edge, and neighbours Penny and Mark Thompson. It was Penny who accompanied Margaret in the ambulance to Waikato Hospital after the accident.

Also on hand were Waipā deputy mayor Liz Stolwyk, Customer and Community Services group manager Sally Sheedy, Community Services manager Brad Ward, Parks and Reserves operations team leader Matt Johnston, arborist Chris Brockelbank and parks staff Jim Cooper and Darrian Gedge.

Watching on via video link from Australia was Margaret’s other son Brett.

“I miss her a lot,” said Kristen. “I’ve missed having our conversations, our laughs, a lot of life experiences and knowledge she used to pass (onto) me regularly, whether you wanted to hear it or not.”

Later at a morning tea in the Cambridge Community Pavilion, next to where the new tree was planted, he said the family had been reassured when told an independent arborist had confirmed the old tree’s roots had been healthy.

It confirmed what Margaret’s nephew Stephen said to Kristen at the hospital a year ago.

“The tree didn’t kill your Mum. The wind killed her and the tree.”

See: Rocking for Margaret 

See: Tea without Marg

See: Woman dies after freakish winds

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